retail lighting

  • Track Lighting Design That's Smart and Sustainable

    Savvy Salon Style With Grip Lock Lighting and SORAA LED Bulbs: Smart track lighting solutions for a smart design-a true story about sustainable track lighting design.


    Calleis Salon and Spa. Photography by Wandering Albatross Photography

    Concept: an Aveda Salon, Calleis Salon and Spa, wanted an image of their space to work functionally and to have a feel of quality, yet convey a naturalness. For the designer of the space, it was fortunate that the Aveda Company did not come with design specific restrictions-the designer had free reign.

    Location: Helena, Montana. The space of the salon/spa is modern and colorful-so is the packaging of the Aveda products. The designer, Rebekka (Bekka) Cantrell of Sussex Construction, wanted to work with a monochromatic color palette that conveyed serenity; one that was quiet and understated. Bekka chose to work with the color palette of driftwood. From a design standpoint, she needed the track lighting to compliment the earthy feel, and yet have it be bright and feel natural. The lighting also needed to be high color rendering. One side of the space had lots of natural light and the other side did not-the designer also wanted lighting between these two areas to be balanced and to be able to control it in order to be able to adjust with the seasonal changes. The designer also wanted to be able to use a lighting source that was sustainable-as that is part of the mission and reputation of Sussex Construction-for green building experience while being sustainable.

    When our lighting designer here at Total Lighting Supply told Bekka about the SORAA bulb, she fell in love with it as it was a single point light source that offered crisp, clear light with no harsh shadows. You can find out more about the SORAA bulb here. With the space having a lot of natural light on one side and none on the other, there really needed to be a balance of light on both sides. There were a lot of areas where the light needed to be closer to the product-where it had to be brought down into the space, as the ceilings were 14 ft. high. The designer wanted an uncluttered look and also needed to be able to change the lighting with the light shifts that come with seasonal changes. She needed a suspended track lighting system to solve the problem and Grip Lock offered that solution since it was totally unobtrusive. With the Grip Lock Suspension System, it gave the designer a way to bring lighting down in to the area without having the lighting fixture be a key visual feature when clients walked in to the space. It also allowed for a more natural feel to the space.


    Calleis Salon and Spa. Photography by Wandering Albatross Photography

    The salon/spa is also in a green building and SORAA met the bill on that one. In addition, Helena's building code requires 70% efficiency on lights-a tough one to meet, but becoming more and more do-able with all the lighting choices out there. Even in track lighting.


    Calleis Salon and Spa. Photography by Wandering Albatross Photography

    For the client, going with the SORAA bulbs were a big initial investment, but the designer did some number crunching and calculated that it would only take 3 years and 2 months to realize the payback on this. Plus, this also met the building code, satisfied the clients needs for the space and leaves a smaller carbon footprint. From a design and client standpoint, the math worked on this, as did the visual and the esthetics. Definitely a win-win scenario.

    The track lighting allows the client to show off a lot of natural products in a natural looking light. Everything is soft and muted. Even the wood is eco friendly in this site being locally harvested and reclaimed. The light is diffused. The areas where the designer dropped down light was the cash register and the wash basin areas where a lot of light is needed. The designer says that even with artificial light in these areas, it still had a sense of it being a natural light source. This lighting effect is something that can never be achieved with halogen lights since they are not a single source light. SORAA is a natural looking light source that is even-halogen is not. Not to mention, that for the designer, SORAA had the color temperature she was looking for AND the right amount of lumens.


    Calleis Salon and Spa. Photography by Wandering Albatross Photography

    If you've worked with Total Lighting Supply on a lighting project and would like to see an article about your experience here at our blog, contact us-we'd love to work with you on this!

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    Tags: retail lighting, Salon and spa design, lighting retail space, sustainable track lighitng

  • What is Specular Lighting and When Is It Good?

    Specular lighting is a reflective light which causes highlights upon the object(s) it is lighting-that bright spot that you see on the object from the reflective light is what is known as specular light.

    OK, so now you are asking me, "why is this important to me?".  You might not care about the fact that specular lighting falls off of the surface faster than diffused lighting (as my son used to say when he was a teenager, "who cares, mom?"). But, you will want to know that it does add significant detail to the object. Whether or not your application has to do with retail, design, or just making your living space look better, this is certainly relevant information (if it isn't, it should be!).  Even in computer graphics, using the principles of specular lighting is important because it "provides a strong visual cue for the shape of an object and its location with respect to light sources in the scene" (Wikipedia). If specular lighting principles were not used in computer graphic design the images would appear to be very flat, lacking detail and dimension.

    Hold on to that thought.

    Now, take it and apply it to real life surroundings. A good way to illustrate specular is to point out examples of what isn't specular lighting. Diffused light sources are NOT specular. Take the image of the sparkly necklace pictured above. If it were lit with diffused light source, it would not have the depth, dimension and more importantly (in this case), the SPARKLE that it has. There would be less detail because the light source does not give a good separation from the background to the foreground. So, if you wanted to light a room so that it had depth, detail, and drama, would you use a single light source such as an overhead fluorescent fixture? Absolutely not. Fluorescent light sources can never be specular-nor any other light bulb that is coated. Light bulbs that are coated create a diffused light-therefore the object that it is lighting will not have as much depth and detail. Any light bulb that is clear would be a specular light source. The sun is a specular light source (it is not diffused light unless it is very overcast).

    Shadows are just important to good lighting just as much as the light source is. Shadows create depth. When viewing an object, the eye automatically goes to the brightest spot in the light field. Very much so like the effect a spotlight creates in theatrical lighting.

    specular lighting example specular lighting example

    Pictured above is a dish of foil wrapped chocolate-notice how you can see all the details in the image (if you can't, then find your reading glasses and put them on, for heaven's sake!). The corrugated edges of the paper, all the folds and wrinkles in the foil, and the distinct edges of the glass-it is this depth and detail that I am referring to that a specular light source will yield when used properly. In this example, the image was lit with a very small lighting fixture: our LED under cabinet light strip.

    So, if you want depth, detail, attention to what is being lit, go with a specular light source-which is any light bulb that does not have a coating on the glass. Be sure to check out our other blog articles for more helpful information and visit and subscribe to our You Tube Channel (which has even more helpful information than you could ever imagine). "Like' us on our Face Book page-which will help you keep track of what's new at Total Lighting Supply.

    And, as always, we welcome your comments-we love hearing from you!

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    Tags: led, LED under cabinet lighitng, trade show lighting solutions, led showcase light fixture, lighting basics, how to do proper lighting, retail lighting, home lighitng design, showcase lighting

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